Arty graduates must be taught business skills too – Lesley Keating

They might be celebrating at the moment, but the real world beckons.
They might be celebrating at the moment, but the real world beckons.
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This past week thousands of university students across the country have been dusting themselves off after results celebrations and are donning a cap and gown to accept their hard-won degrees. 

Some we know have already secured themselves placements or full-time design and law positions so they’re on their way to their dream careers. 

But I’m pretty sure there are sadly many others who’ve had no such luck and are now floundering, wondering what on earth they’re going to do while considering shelf-stacking jobs to help pay the rent. Particularly those who are graduating in subjects which are often harder to find work in.

As the working world is so competitive I just wish universities made commercial awareness a real priority to help their students, particularly those in the creative subjects.  It has been described as the one thing that employers prize above all in graduates, yet it’s the skill most likely to be lacking.

One student I spoke to said loftily: ‘Oh, but commercial awareness isn’t relevant for arts degrees, it’s more for business students, isn’t it?’

Er… no, actually. 

Here’s an example.

A graduate designer who once took a placement at my friend’s company was charged with the task of designing a simple display item. 

He was briefed about the brand’s simple, clean and minimalist image, then given a rough budget and a deadline.

Off he went, full of ideas, to his Mac, refusing offers of help or mentoring.

After a few days of silence, his manager was getting a little concerned.

As it happened it was lucky this was a work experience task, not a live project. 

When he eventually resurfaced he proudly produced a shockingly elaborate, irrelevant design. Far from minimalist, it actually resembled the Sydney Opera House! 

Furthermore, it had taken him spectacularly over-budget with about 26 hours of design time.

He was genuinely shocked that it was criticised as he just couldn’t see beyond the need to be arty and creative. 

It would be really helpful if universities could always be mindful that the companies employing graduates need to make a profit. Creativity still has to be accountable.


Everyone knows cycling is an environmentally friendly way to get around. And every motorist is aware they need to be considerate to vulnerable cyclists. 

Which is why, luckily, there are now so many cycle lanes and dual-purpose pavements with cycle access, all clearly marked with signs showing a bike logo in a big blue circle.

These are a godsend on the busy, often narrow, roads to which they’re adjacent. 

So, someone please tell me why I still regularly drive on roads which have a perfectly good cycle lane alongside, only to get held up by some puce-faced, sweaty, middle-aged bloke in Lycra, puffing his way along the main road at two miles an hour, completely oblivious to the often-dangerous queue of traffic he’s built up his wake?

Can’t cyclists read?


Earlier this week I rang my doctor’s surgery and, rather than having to wait one or two days for an appointment, to my surprise, I was offered a choice of several same-day slots, both morning and afternoon! 

The only time this has ever happened before was when I once needed to see a doctor before they closed on Christmas Eve. I was then told to pick my own, same-day timeslot.

At my normally jam-packed surgery this week, I was one of just three people waiting.  At Christmas, it was only me! How very intriguing.

I can only deduce that I’ve uncovered an unusual medical phenomenon – that people just don’t get ill enough to see a doctor on hot, sunny, summer days or at Christmas.

I wonder if The Lancet would be interested…